After our last dog, Sugar, died in July, I started volunteering at the local county animal shelter. I wish I could say otherwise, but it is a very depressing place. With so many animals being abandoned, especially large dogs, and not enough adopters, the shelter is perpetually overcrowded.
It was agonizing to meet so many wonderful & loving dogs and know that I was helpless to save them. It punches you in the gut every time you take a dog outside, get to know them, see how happy they can be, only to have to lock them back up in a small kennel where their immediate future is most likely death.
I met Meri during one of the "doggie field trips." She had been at the shelter for over 6 months. And I was immediately struck by how incredibly gentle, trusting, and sweet she was.
I started doing everything I could to find an adopter for her. So when, a few weeks later, I heard that she was one of the dogs who would be euthanized the following week, my heart stopped.
As some of you may remember, we had taken in a very sick cat named Lancelot from the shelter over 1.5 years ago to foster. I didn't feel we could take on a new (likely large) foster dog because I didn't know how the dog would be with cats, and I didn't want to stress Lance. But as luck or fate would have it, Lance was adopted by a kind elderly couple 2 days before Meri was scheduled to be killed.
On Oct 17, the day she was to die, I picked Meri up from the shelter, signed all the papers that transferred her ownership to me, and took her home as our next foster dog.
There was another dog at the shelter, Cucumber, with whom I had spent a lot of time previously. He was a young dog, playful and sometimes a handful but so endearingly curious and good-natured. It had been our intent to foster him as soon as Lance was adopted. But Meri was the one in more immediate need so we rescued her first, hoping that Cucumber would still have more time.
Meri didn't get along with other dogs, so we were still trying to figure something out for Cucumber. But only a few days after getting Meri, we learned that he too was placed on the euthanasia list as well. There was no choice. Cucumber came home as our 2nd foster dog.
It's been a busy(er) few weeks as we adjusted to having these two vastly different dogs with very different needs. We're still making adjustments. But it's been wonderful.
My heart breaks for all the animals we can't save. I have felt firsthand the despair for so many other dogs, some of whom I have hugged and kissed and spent hours with, knowing I couldn't do anything beyond that to make their lives better.
I don't think I can fully express how immense a gift to me it is to be able to provide a safe harbor for these 2 dogs. To take them out of that awful place where they must've felt such confusion and fear, shower them with love, watch them thrive, and give them --and myself-- hope. I am filled with gratitude to have this opportunity to see them truly happy and appreciated.